LAKE Macquarie council will start building a shared pathway alongside the Pacific Highway at Blacksmiths early next year but is still weighing up how to connect the path to the Belmont end of the Fernleigh Track.
The council on Friday released artist's impressions of the southern half of the 3.5- kilometre Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track, which is proposed to link the Fernleigh Track and an existing path in Blacksmiths.
The project, which has attracted $7.4 million from the NSW government, will ultimately create 27 kilometres of cycleway from Murrays Beach to Adamstown.
Earlier this week, council staff held an information session with local residents and unveiled designs for the southern leg and multiple possible routes for the path north of Belmont Golf Club.
From Awabakal Avenue in Blacksmiths to Hilda Street in Belmont, the council will build a three metre-wide path parallel to the highway, fencing and retain an existing on-road bike lane for accomplished cyclists.
Deputy CEO Tony Farrell said the council was yet to decide where to run the path north of the golf club.
"We're progressing well with our investigations into the most appropriate route for the northern section, which runs from the Belmont end of the Fernleigh Track, past Belmont Lagoon to land adjacent to Belmont Golf Club," he said.
"We are looking at a number of route options, and weighing them up against a wide variety of factors, such as budget, environmental and cultural impact, user experience and impact on residents and other stakeholders."
All of the proposed options except for one run to the west of Belmont Lagoon, skirting along residential areas.
The alternative option east of the lagoon deviates from the Fernleigh Track a few hundred metres before the Belmont terminus and rejoins the other proposed routes near the golf club.
The path would follow existing off-road tracks and run close to the Belmont wastewater treatment plant.
Deeper reading on the Fernleigh Track
Mr Farrell said an online survey open until November 26 asked participants to rate the importance of eight key factors, from conservation and cultural heritage to local community impacts and maintenance costs.
"This is a regionally significant project, so we want to hear from as many people as possible," he said.
The council will start work on the southern section early next year but it is not expected to be completed until 2022. Stage-two planning is expected to be complete by August, but would not be built until the following year.
The entire shared pathway, including public art installations recognising the cultural significance of the area, is scheduled to be finalised by late 2023.